A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mandy is a 2018 horror movie in which Nicolas Cage plays a man looking to avenge the murder of his girlfriend at the hands of a drug-fueled death cult. There are quite a few bloody and gory moments, including eyes popping out of a skull, decapitation, and a character stabbed in the mouth. The lead character is forced to watch as his girlfriend is killed and then set on fire. He's bound in the mouth and wrists by barbed wire. Viewers see fighting with guns, arrows, swords, axes, and chainsaws. A character plays Russian roulette. Characters are shown to be under the influence of hallucinogens (hazy vision, large pupils), and a character is shown making LSD. There's marijuana smoking and cigarette smoking. In a moment of intense grief, the lead character is shown chugging from a vodka bottle and screaming at the top of his lungs. Full-frontal male nudity is seen, as is female nudity in paintings and animated sequences. Strong profanity includes "motherf----r" and "f--king."
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Violence: 9/10 - Lots of gore and violence. A lady is set on fire. Characters are stabbed. A chainsaw fight. Dead bodies. Peo... Continue reading
What's the story?
In MANDY, Red (Nicolas Cage) lives with his artist girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in the peace and seclusion of the Shadow Mountains in 1983. Their peace is soon shattered after Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), the leader of a hippie death cult, spots Mandy on a dirt road near her house, and decides that she must join them. The cult, with the assistance of a demonic drug-fueled motorcycle gang, tie up Mandy and Red, and then Mandy refuses to join and laughs at the psychedelic folk record Sand released when he was a struggling musician. Outraged, Sand then kills Mandy and sets her on fire in front of Red, whose wrists and mouth are bound with barbed wire. When the cult and motorcycle gang leave, Red escapes the barbed wire, violently grieves, and then plots his revenge. He reclaims his crossbow that was held by a neighbor, forges a battle ax, and sets out to kill those who murdered his girlfriend, by any means necessary.
Is it any good?
In spite of its worn-on-sleeve influences, there's really nothing quite like this bizarre and captivating revenge horror film. Its '80s setting almost suggests Stranger Things without the innocent coming-of-age scenes, but it's more like a hallucinogenic reimagining of, among other things, Heavy Metal (the movie, and the music videos of the genre), the artwork on Dungeons and Dragons modules, the darkest of David Lynch, and a zonked-out Koresh-like nightmare of a cult leader (played with intensely creepy menace by Linus Roache). The hazy eeriness permeating the movie is heightened by a harrowing soundtrack and performances where every actor seems pushed to the breaking point.
While by this point audiences have managed expectations when viewing a "Nicolas Cage movie," the exaggerated bombast and overblown intensity perfectly fit the style and sensibility of Mandy. Anyone familiar with revenge movies should have a good indication of how the story will eventually transpire, but it's the singular journey that makes one forget the expected destination, and it's what makes Mandy so unique. It's easy to imagine this movie attaining a (no pun intended) cult-like status, and not just for scenes of Nic Cage screaming at the top of his lungs in an '80s-style bathroom in his underwear while chugging vodka straight from the bottle, or for "Amulet of the Weeping Maze," the psych-folk jam presented as a sample of cult leader Jeremiah Sand's failed music career (and yes, it's on Spotify). But be warned that it's weird and not for everyone, especially kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movie violence. Why do you think blood and gore has entertainment value for some? How much is too much?
What are some other examples of movies besides Mandy in which revenge is the lead character's main motivation? Why do you think revenge has an appeal for audiences?
How did music heighten moments of suspense? How is music used in other movies?
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